Monday, May 7, 2012

And now for something completely different - a scenty giveaway!

It's no surprise to anyone who knows me that I love scents. I'm a big proponent of aromatherapy, and I even use it while writing. In addition to using specific music to set the mood, I also use scents. It helps put me in the right frame of mind to get down to work. Every book has its own playlist and set of smells. In fact, my current WIP features the scents Ancient Forest, Forest Faery and Midsummer's Eve.

I can't wear regular perfume - my body chemistry doesn't play nicely with the alcohol content and other chemicals in there. So basically, me + regular perfume = dead flowers with a hint of roadkill in the sun. It's not pretty. I turned to essential oil perfumes and I've been dead flower and roadkill-free ever since. I've also been headache-free. There's something about some store bought scents that make for instant migraines, but I don't have that experience with essential oils. I love the combinations and how they work with my own body chemistry to smell even better.

I came across Melissa of the Mindful Mushroom while I was perusing Etsy (read: procrastinating) and I was intrigued by her perfume descriptions, so I decided to try some samples.OMG, am I ever glad I did.

This woman is a scent genius. After falling in love with several of her premixed scents, I asked her to do a special one for me with all of my favorite things: sandalwood, clove, woodsmoke, vanilla, honey and berries. It's FREAKING AMAZING. I love it so much. And she very cleverly named it Bronwyn.

Because I adore Melissa's products (and her cruelty-free stance) so much, one lucky commenter is going to win a 25.00 gift certificate to her Etsy store. And because Melissa is such a sweet and interesting person, I'd like to give you a chance to find out a little more about her in this interview. Contest details below.

Without further ado, I'd like you to meet Melissa.

Why perfume making?

Because I love it. I love how perfumes can instantly change your mood. There are some fragrances that make you happy, some that make you feel like a playful child, some that make you feel completely sexy and some that create instant peace and calm.

What attracted you to it in the first place?

I received a sample vial of hand blended oil as a gift from a friend. This is something I never would have thought to buy because I had plenty of alcohol based perfumes made by large businesses. Yes, shame on me I know. After my first application of this oil I was hooked. I loved how you applied it to your skin instead of spraying it at yourself. I loved how it blended with my body chemistry to create a completely unique scent. And I appreciated the thought that it was handmade. That I was wearing something that someone put love into making.

I don't think that I have bought a store bought beauty product since. Well except razors.
When I was ready to buy more of this oil I learned that the girl was no longer in business so I decided to start making my own.

How long have you been doing it?

Around four years. I should have known I would eventually be working with this type of medium. When I was about 10 I used to go pick all of my neighbors flowers, dry them, blend them and then sell them back to them as potpurri so I could raise money to donate to animals in need. Who would have known that 22 years later I would still be drying flowers and using the proceeds to help animals?

Where do you get your inspiration?

From nature, fairies and the thought of a nomad lifestyle. I like to create scents that take you on a journey whether it is just on a camping trip or to somewhere like india or through a magical fairy forest. I like enchantment and imagination.

What are your favorite ingredients to work with?

I am a firm believer in using sustainable and organic ingredients. I love the benefits of hemp seed oil and essential oils. Cedarwood repels insects, amyris is an aphrodisiac, rose relieves depression, chamomile calms. I think that the healing properties of plants is just incredible.

Have you ever made any truly hideous scents?

Yes! I was trying to make a custom oil for a guy that liked eucalyptus. I mixed an insane amount of eucalyptus with spearmint. That could have been used as a remedy to induce nausea. It was so sick. I also tried making one of my wine scents and wound up with a fragrance reminiscent of grape cough syrup. Gross.

Do you have any favorite scents? Why are they your favorites?

Absolutely. I love sandalwood. I love the smoky, warm quality that it has. It makes me feel at ease to wear it. Patchouli was probably my first to fall in love with. My friend used to wear a patchouli perfume that has long since been discontinued by Jovan. Every time I was around her I just kept wanting to smell her. Years later I got my first bottle of patchouli essential oil. I was probably the happiest hippie on the planet.

I also really like the mixture of clove and orange. The more I keep thinking of scents that I love the more that I am realizing that I apparently have a love affair with fragrances and could easily fill pages of my favorite scents. Mainly woodsy, smoky and dessert types are my favorites. I am not a big fan of soft florals and clean scents although I do respect their place on the fragrance wheel.

Here are all of my links

Okay, all you need to do to enter is leave a comment or question for Melissa. And don't be shy, what are some of your favorite scents? The contest will from from now until Tuesday, May 15th. I'll draw the winner at 7pm that night and send you your super awesome Mindful Mushroom gift certificate


Molly Daniels said...

LOL:) I used to LOVE the smell of Lady Stetson in the bottle, but put it on me and I smell as if I've been stuffed inside a gym locker for an entire week with dirty, sweaty, gym clothes!

My question: How long does it take you to come up with a special scent for someone, and then bottle it? I've heard perfume can take weeks or even months.

I've fallen in love with rose and vanilla scents.

And on the guys, I'll admit to dancing with a stranger once and spent the entire song sniffing his neck, he smelled so good!

Unknown said...

I'm curious how long it takes you to develop a new scent. I get migraines from a lot of the store perfumes too.

I'm going to check her out!

Unknown said...

I thought I was odd getting headaches from perfumes. So very glad to know I'm not alone in the world :)
I'm a huge fan of the scent (and flavor) of basil, do you use it in any of your creations?
Also, I think what you do is great! Proceeds going to animals that need it. We need more people out there with such a kind heart!


Gwendolyn Cease said...

I love this!! I too cannot wear regular perfums since I am highly allergic. I am goin go out and check the site out. My question is do you use lavender? I love that scent.

Terri Doezema said...

This is awesome!! I can totally see myself getting into this sort of thing. I love the smell of Lilacs. I also love cloves and would be interested in the Cloves an Orange mix that Melissa mentioned. After losing all of my scents and perfumes in a recent house fire, I'm eager to (eventually) rebuild my collection and this looks like a great place to start. Thanks for introducing us to Melissa!

Jessica Lee said...

Great interview! I adore fragrances! They do affect the mood. What a wonderful job you have. Sandalwood has grown on me. I wasn't a huge fan at first, but the more I'm around it, the more I love it.
Can't wait to check out your store online. :)

Kris Norris said...

I love the idea. I've never tried oils before...just another store-bought junkie.

My faves are cloves and roses or hyacinths...I wonder if you can mix those? My grandmother used to put whole cloves into an orange at Christmas, then hang it up. I think that's why cloves are my favourite scent.

I also love anything flowery... so Melissa, can you mix florals (like rose, hyacinth) and cloves, or would that end up inducing a gag reflex?

Sidney Ayers said...

What a cool giveaway! I am also someone who cannot wear many perfumes. I'm not sure what's in them that makes me get ill. I had to give a way a half-used bottle of Tommygirl perfume because I could no longer wear it. My family calls me the scent police because I get pretty cranky when someone's perfume interacts negatively with me. LOL

Tess Grant said...

Like T.L., I adore the smell of lilacs. It's not exactly a perfume-type smell, but it reminds me of the huge lilac bushes between my parent's house and the neighbors that always bloomed on my b-day. I also love vanilla-based scents. Mmmmm...

Drmgrl99 - Dawn said...

My best friend is an essential oils supplier and always makes me stuff from smell goods oils, laundry soap, carpet freshener, air sprays, body soap, and cold medicine. I love it all I smell good, house smells good, and I haven't been sick in forever!
Love to see people going back to the natural stuff - Great business and I love the Bronwyn smell!!

Kristi aka Fiber Fool said...

Store bought perfumes have been a headache causer for me for some time. It made me sad as they always gave me a little extra boost of confidence. Solid perfumes tend to cause less trouble, but I've been making a lot of my own beauty products lately and want to explore perfume oil but haven't been entirely happy with my trials so far. I'm a big fan of citrus scents, especially grapefruit and lime. Oh, and I like the mix of fruity and floral of bergamont. Did you just learn about blending by doing or did you so some reading first? Where might one start?

Stephanie Michels, author said...

Wow, I wish I had the kind of nose to do perfuming.

I'm a floral and vanilla-ish type of person (sandalwood and patchouli both do bad things with my body chemistry even though I love it on others). Ad, like Bronwyn, I can recall some truly results after spraying on what seemed like a yummy-smelling perfume.

I had a favorite that everyone commented on whenever I wore it. I even had a guy stop in a bar and come back to ask me what scent I was wearing so he could tell his wife. It was definitely "MY SCENT". Then the manufacturer discontinued it. Of Course!

I've been on a mission to find another "ME" scent ever since. Maybe essential oils are the thing!
~ Marti

Anonymous said...

Wow, Bronwyn, I've always loved your perfumes, truly and always commented to you about them. Now you're rousing my interest in doing my own blends. I used to do crafts and used oils to perfume my craft projects, but am not certain those are the same oils as to use in perfumes. Can you give us all some hints? Maybe do a program about them. No, can't wait that long. Just spill your guts and give it up now, so we can all become perfumers extraordinaire. By the way, have any of you read Perfume by Phillip Suskind?

the mindful mushroom said...

Thank you for all of the comments and questions. You girls are awesome!

For the most part it is very easy for me to create new fragrances. I usually just pick my first fragrance, say rose. I open the bottle breathe in the aroma and decide what it wants to become. Once I have that idea I begin opening up other bottles and smelling them all together to get an idea of how they will mix with each other. This process usually takes around 20 or 30 minutes. Sometimes longer if I'm not in the right mood. I think mixing fragrances is a bit like painting. You have to be in the right frame of mind and have your creative side open. Also not be afraid to try new things. I think that's why some of my oils work so well. I was never formally trained so for the most part I don't use common fragrance combinations therefore I wind up with some pretty strange and unique fragrances.

I am a huge fan of basil as well. I love growing, eating and wearing it. I use basil in quite a few of my blends. Here are the ones that I can think of containing basil.
Amber Waves, Bliss, Cool Ghoul and Thirteen. I also can add basil essential oil to any of the blends in my shop.

Thank you for the kind words Ava. I think that more people are becoming more aware and compassionate.

I do use lavender as well. That is a wonderful scent. Some of my blends containing lavender are
Deadly Nightshade, Faerie Meadows, Green Woman, Haunted, Mother Nature, Unseelie Court and Vintage Lace.

T L- The orange, clove mix that I have is called Eat Me. This is my take on Alice's 'Eat Me' cake. It is a blend of sweet orange, marshmallows, clove and
I am so sorry to hear about your house fire. That is just awful. I hope that you are able to rebuild your life and home beautifully. I am sending positive vibes your way.

Kris- I could mix that in a way that it would smell divine. It may need a tiny bit of help from a couple of softer ingredients as well. You can send me a convo on my Etsy store if you are interested and I will create something for you.

Kristi- I kind of covered it in the first paragraph of this comment but if you are interested in creating your own oils I would simply suggest buying a base oil like hemp seed or rice bran and several essential oils and start mixing. You will need droppers as to not make a huge oily mess. And oils do best stored in dark containers and out of the sun and heat. Good luck and happy creating.

Susan said...

I haven't been able to wear perfumes since my twenties when they started causing headaches and had pretty much given up on them. Will definitely have to check Melissa's essential oils out. I love spicy scents, cinnamon, clove, carnations. When I was a teen, I wore something called Blue Carnation and have never forgotten how much I loved it.

Gabrielle Lee said...

What a great giveaway. I have always wanted to try my hand at making scents. I love essential oils. Most perfumes end up making my head ache.
Thanks for such an interesting interview.

Anna Mayle said...

Ooh, Sandalwood and Patchouli! Love them ^_^ Those are my mom's scents and they became mine, they always remind me of home. A lot of people don't like the smell of patchouli though, I was worried my fiance would be one of them. It's a blessing and a curse that he has no sense of smell I guess. He says he doesn't miss a sense he never had, but I think he regretted it the day the cat sprayed his uniform and he didn't notice. How would you describe your favorite scent to a man with no sense of smell. Steve's reading over my shoulder and he's curious now ^_^.

Lisabet Sarai said...

What a fascinating blog, Bron! And hello, Melissa!

I'm curious as to how you learned what you needed to know in order to concoct your scents. Or is it mostly intuition? I imagine it can't be - presumably there's some science involved, yes?

Tessie Bradford said...

I'm incredibly smell sensitive! Odors, good or bad instantly trigger memories for me. My favorite perfumes are spicy rather than flowery.
I've never tried oils, but I'm off to check out Melissa's site!

Betsy D. said...

How exciting! My mom is highly allergic to most perfumes as well, but loves lily of the valley and lilacs. I will have to check out the store. My question is can you use the oils in applications other than perfume? I would be interested in scents I can put in a diffuser or on my stove. Thanks!

Mouse said...

Wow- I love the scents in her shop! I'm a patchouli/sandalwood/nag champa type gal myself- floral perfumes do the same "dead flowers & roadkill" thing with my body chemistry! I love musky, exotic & gothic scents "Marrakesh", "woodstock" and "gypsy caravan" sound right up my alley...

Meg said...

Fantastic post and giveaway! I will go check her products out.Thanks Meg

Mia Watts said...

I so so so want to win this. I'm also going over to her store right now. :)

Thanks, Bron.

Giselle said...

I tried creating me own perfume at a science festival in NYC last year. It was a lot of fun. Would love to do it again.

the mindful mushroom said...

Anna- That cat story is hilarious! If you check out my website most of my oils have a pretty in depth description that may help you out.
Lisabet- I read a book on mixing different scents and decided that was 100% not for me. I go strictly on intuition.
Betsy- I'm not sure I know how burning oils work so you may try some that say they are for that purpose. My oils are mainly just to be worn.

Thank you so much for all of the great comments. I am looking forward to creating oils for you.
Good luck with the contest!

devon said...

What an awesome giveaway.
I'm not much of a floral person (though I like lavendar), but I love clove and orange and cinnamon and vanilla (gee sounds like I should bake something).
Anyways, I will definitely be checking out your website.

Emily said...

I just have to say, I love the art of perfume making. I once got to try my hand at it as part of the Girl Scouts and ever since, it's fascinated me. And I love aromatherapy, it helps when I get really stressed or my allergies become a pain (which is spring, summer, occasionally fall).

Some questions for Melissa: How long does it take from thinking of a new scent to selling it? How long does it take to test, name, etc, a new scent? And are there certain scents that are harder to work with than others (for example, eucalyptus)?

Thanks so much for letting me know about Melissa, I will definitely be visiting!! And thanks for the giveaway!!

the mindful mushroom said...

Emily- These are quite hard questions to answer since all of my oils are so different. Sometimes the scents and names go together effortlessly and sometimes I stew over the same one for weeks to have it never even wind up on my shelf.
For me creating oils is more like art than it is work or science which I guess is why it's so hard for me to answer these types of questions. I don't really have a method to my madness I just make stuff. I have ingredients that I like better than others but as far as some being easier than others...I think if you have an open imagination anything can be easy to create.